Habsburg Control on the Ottoman Frontier: Medicine, the Military and Vampire Mania in an 18th Century Borderland

Tuesday 9th May, Senior Parlour, Gonville and Caius College, 5-6:30pm

Dr William O’Reilly (University of Cambridge)

In the early and mid-18th century the Militärgrenze, the frontier zone between the Habsburg crown lands and the Ottoman empire, changed from being a place of military defence and a cordon sanitaire to the scene for the playing out of an obsession which swept Europe: the appearance of vampires. This paper will consider how and why the Habsburg borderland became a place of perceived lawlessness, of exoticism, and how political power was negotiated between Vienna and the populations in and along the frontier. The paper will consider the relationship between military defence, contagion and disease control, and the vampire craze in this enlightened space of policing.